Friday, June 25, 2010

Trekkies sticking with Klingons


Where: Sheraton Wall Centre, 1088 Burrard St.

When: Friday to Sunday. Check for schedule

Tickets: Various prices, daily admission $20 at the door or

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A little job actor Gwynyth Walsh took nearly 20 years ago has been her ticket to frequent-flyer miles and the adoration of a select group of fans ever since.

The Vancouver actor has been all over North America and Europe, meeting Star Trek fans to talk about her role as B'Etor, one of a pair of scheming Klingon sisters introduced in a 1991 two-episode arc of TV's Star Trek: the Next Generation. The sisters — fellow Canadian Barbara March played sibling Lursa — came back for an episode three years later, and crossed over to Deep Space Nine before being killed off in the 1994 feature Star Trek: Generations.

"Star Trek fans are very loyal and very passionate," says Walsh, who is part of this weekend's convention that will also feature a reunion of original Star Trek stars William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.

"It's unusual that with such a limited body of work that we'd be doing this sort of thing, but I think it's because we were Klingons. The people who like Klingons like them a lot."

Walsh is a busy stage actor who starred in four seasons of TV's Da Vinci's Inquest, and just wrapped a role in the TV movie One Angry Juror. She and March, who will appear together at the Vancouver convention, were based in Los Angeles when they were first cast on Next Generation. The pair had earlier met while both were with Ontario's Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

"They hadn't written a lot of Klingon females on the show before. I think that gender distinction caught people's eye," Walsh says of their continuing fan appeal. "We were plotting to take over the Klingon Empire. We were guerrilla warriors, essentially always up to nefarious deeds."

The characters gave female fans a reason to wear the distinctive Klingon ridged-forehead prosthetics. Walsh doesn't show up in costume — hers is in the Smithsonian Institution — as she answers questions and poses for pictures with fans. She and March will be at the convention Friday afternoon.

"We were blown up in Star Trek: Generations, although almost every convention I go to, some fan says, 'Well, you know, they could bring you back.'"

Walsh went to her first fan convention, in Columbus Ohio, right after Star Trek: Generations was released.

"There were thousands of people. The first time you go to one of these things it's a real mind-trip," she says. "Sometimes there is an element of devoted obsession, but for the most part, this is just their hobby. They generally know way more about the series than you do."

Walsh counts herself a Star Trek fan, and liked what writer-director J.J. Abrams did with the recent feature reboot of the franchise.

"Sci-fiis often unfairly tarred as a ghetto, an acting ghetto. But especially when you look at shows like Battlestar Galactica that's just not true. The more sci-fiyou see, the more you realize that it's difficult to do well."

Writer-producer Ronald Moore, who created the Vancouver-filmed series Battlestar Galactica, got his sci-fi start on Star Trek: The Next Generation, where he wrote the episode that introduced B'Etor and Lursa.

So Walsh can thank him for that semi-regular travel schedule.

"European ones are my favourite, I like the free trips overseas," she says. "As an actor, unless you're a huge star, you toil in the trenches and you never get to meet your audience. It's a real gift to understand how something that you're a part of affects people."